Abridged from The Pilot’s Voice
The Pilot’s Voice: Part 4
Byron had been caught. It was all out. From the morning that he stood before the judge, Byron knew life was going to be different. But how different he had yet to discover.
Byron was still clinging to a part of the wreckage of his past life. Though home now was his shelter and Mother’s prayers a source of comfort, Byron was often troubled.
While letting the horses rest one afternoon, Byron sat down with a jack-knife to whittle. He soon was buried in deep thoughts about his past. Like a book, he seemed to be able read every page. How many times he had not listened to his mother’s advice! It was the little things which had grown into ugly mountains, for each sin had led to a greater one.
Byron shuddered at the awful pages. “How could I have been so blind? Just look at the result of my disobedience and lying. The trouble with the boys was just where I was heading!” He felt himself sinking as a guilty sinner in the ocean of sin, unable to get out on his own.
“Have mercy upon me, O Lord,” Byron prayed, dropping to his knees in distress. He was in trouble, but the Savior seemed so far away!
Sitting on the porch that night, Byron felt quite miserable. Mother came to sit beside him, but he could hardly tell her the trouble. At last she said, “There is to be a series of meetings held by a traveling minister starting Sunday. I should like to have you go with me.”
They talked then, and darkness fell as Byron told her of his burdened heart. Once again he found her to be such a loving and understanding mother. He went up to bed with eager thoughts about attending the meetings.
The singing had begun when Byron and his mother entered the chapel. He sat and watched the happy faces of the little band as they sang:
Salvation’s free, glad joy to all
Of Adam’s fallen race;
We’ll tell to all, both far and near,
Of saving, keeping grace.*
How the words thrilled Byron’s soul! The sermon, too, was the wonderful story of Christ’s ministry on earth. The minister spoke of His simple life as a beautiful example of God’s undying love. And this Jesus had called to the weary to come and find rest for their souls. Byron longed for that.
As they sat in the meetings that week, Byron felt the burden of his sins more keenly. Night by night the plan of salvation was becoming more and more clear to him. He longed for this freedom more than he had ever wanted the fun times with the boys. The sermon on repentance was deep and heart searching. When a kind and touching invitation was given to come forward for prayer, Byron hastened to the front.
“God alone can save you,” the minister said, “and godly sorrow is to be pained because you have violated God’s holy law. You must call upon Him to help you forsake all your sins. God commands you to repent, for there is no other way to be saved.”
“Do you willingly promise that you will do anything that God may require of you?” the minister asked. “He simply asks you to make your wrongs right wherever you can. To be forgiven you must also forgive those that have wronged you.”
“I have done all that,” Byron said. “What more can I do?”
“Then you must have faith,” the minister said very earnestly. “Can you not believe that the Savior’s great sacrifice was for your sin, too?”
“I do believe,” Byron said a moment later, and the calm and happy look on his face showed plainly that a change had taken place.
When Byron returned to his home he knew that his old life was all gone forever. In family devotions the Bible truth seemed strangely new and interesting to him. As he worked in the field he joined in the bird songs. Byron enjoyed more true happiness out there in the field alone with nature and his God than he had ever been able to imagine before. And his precious mother no longer looked so care-worn and tired.
On the last day of the meetings, a baptismal service was held at the river. One by one the candidates followed their Savior’s example and were buried in a watery grave. As Byron entered the river there was a peaceful smile upon his face. How different this scene was from the dark night when he went over the footbridge not so long ago!
A glad and happy Byron returned to the farm duties with a desire to do all for the Lord. From Mother he learned the beautiful secret: we cannot please God perfectly unless we willingly and cheerfully do the little trying things of each day. And Byron did his best.
Often he would steal away to some secluded spot to pray. At times he was assailed by the enemy and he would go to his mother for needed help and advice. God’s Word became daily food to Byron, and he enjoyed pondering on it alone or studying it with the family.
In all this Byron found the source of happiness and peace. There were two days that never caused him trouble any more: yesterday and tomorrow. Yesterday was gone and what had been done he could never undo. All the troubles of it were past, and could not come back again. Byron could leave it all with God.
Tomorrow was also far beyond reach. Whatever he did would not make it closer. If it held sorrows or sunshine, they also must be left with God. Today, then, was Byron’s only day. What he could do must be done now, for he might not be alive tomorrow. So he decided to give his best and be faithful, trusting his all-wise Creator to take care of all the rest.
It was good that he did, for one day something quite unexpected came along. A relative had come to visit them from a distance, and one afternoon Byron came in to find him in serious conversation with Mother. “We have been talking about your future, Byron,” he said. “I would like to have you return with me and enter my place of business. What do you think?”
“I should like to go very much!” Byron said, brightly. But looking at the tear-stained face of his mother, he added, “I don’t think I can, for Mother needs me at home. And, and—”
“And you don’t think I can give you up?” Mother finished. Her eyes were loving, but yielded, and she said, “I am willing. Yes, it will be hard, but I trust the Holy Spirit to be your guide and this good man to be your friend and counselor. I am glad you should be able to develop into a useful Christian man and be a blessing to the world.”
That night when they were alone together, Byron said, “Tell me, Mother, all that will help me through trials and temptations. I don’t want to get off on the wrong track.”
So Mother began to speak of the many dangers and snares that he should guard against. “A drunkard is not made in a moment,” she said. “You must shun the first drink to escape the second. The weak in character won’t be able to bear ridicule, as you found in associating with James. And how many lives have been ruined by strong drink!”
“Also don’t be hasty in choosing friends. Be assured that he is an honorable person. We all have our faults, but associate with those that have a good and upright effect.”
When at last Byron said good-night, he kissed his mother gently and said, “God bless you! I will strive to do my best and listen for my Pilot’s Voice.”
Over the next few days they were extremely busy getting ready. Clothes were bought and things packed carefully by loving hands. “As I have done before, I shall often bow again in prayer for you,” Mother said, as he sat by her chair the last time. “I hope you will improve every opportunity for learning things that will be useful and helpful to you later on.”
“Bad literature, I believe, is one of the worst influences to do wrong. ‘Satan finds mischief for idle hands to do’ is just as true of idle minds,” she continued. “But biographies of good men and stories told of travels are safe to read. And though you enjoy all your learning, keep your Bible as the most important.”
“If you will seek to please God more than anything else, you do not need a set of rules saying what you should or shouldn’t do. You will be safe if you always look to your Pilot to guide you. He will warn you of danger and the snares the devil sets.”
Byron thought of the many warnings he had ignored, and knew she was right. Now he wanted most of all to take the Bible as his chart and listen to that Pilot’s voice. He wanted to live up to the expectation of his mother, to be a servant of that noble and glorious King. But how hard it was to part!
“Dear Mother, goodbye,” Byron said tearfully, as he stepped into the carriage. Then they were off, with the home and all things dear left behind. The future now lay before with all its uncertainties.
As they waited at the train station, Byron’s thoughts were interrupted by the voice of his companion. “I hope you don’t regret coming with me,” he said kindly. “Remember that success does not come in a moment, and it will take a lot of courage and a decision to make the best of what comes.”
“I am determined to do my best to win,” Byron said.
“You may succeed financially, Byron,” the man continued, “but don’t forget the good instruction of your mother. Be always on your guard, for the enemy is sly and always works to trip us up. If you will pray and seek your Pilot’s help at all times, He will help you through every storm.”
So it was that Byron set forth on a new adventure in life. He spent most of his spare time now in study, particularly in his Bible. Life in the city was quite different from the farm, but Byron determined to do his best and soon adjusted. Others noticed his faithful efforts in the little things, and soon he was given more important work to do. He learned to take each trial and test to the Lord and find His strength and help to go on.
The weeks and months sped by, and at the end of the first year he was able to go home to visit. It was good to talk with Mother once more, to see the farm and friends, and be in the family circle at morning worship. It seemed his mother’s prayers had followed him all the way, and he left with them echoing in his ears once more.
Resuming his work in the city, Byron was soon helping the business grow as it had never before. He worked with good will and prospered, and no one could help noticing the faithful young man in the office chair. Time sped along and soon the years passed as the months had done before. Now and then Byron made a short visit to his old home. Suddenly he realized that his beloved mother was growing old.
“What if Mother should die?” he asked himself when he got news that she was failing in health. Sorrow settled over his heart. “She has been so much to me. How could I part with her?”
“Mother is dangerously sick. Come home at once.” It was a telegram from his brother, and Byron was soon on board a train. It was a happy surprise to find Mother in her chair and able to greet him when he arrived. What a tearful and happy meeting that was!
“I will stay with you, Mother,” Byron said, after family worship the next day.
“I would like that very much,” she said with a quiet smile. “Could you please read the 103rd Psalm to me?” The Bible never seemed so much an inspiration and strength as he read it that morning. When he had repeated several of her favorite passages, she said, “Though we deserve nothing, how merciful and good the Lord has been to us! And if we do well, we shall reign with Him in heaven.”
She seemed very weak, so Byron closed the Bible and knelt beside her chair. He prayed, thanking God for the blessing she had been on his life.
“I’m so thankful that I’ve been spared until you came, but I’m tired and should like to rest.” Those were the last words that she ever spoke, for in a few short hours the summons came for her to depart. As Byron looked upon that dear sweet face, he noted the gentle expression that marked the strength and depth of her life. Those ashen lips could no longer warn him of danger, but they had directed him to the One who could not only warn him, but pilot his soul into the haven she had entered at last.
- Was Byron happy in the beginning?
- What more is there to do than trying our best? Did Byron know what it was?
- Had the Holy Spirit been Byron’s Pilot?
- What does it mean to “make restitution”? Did Byron do it?
- Look at the steps that Byron made to get right with God. What was the final point that made the difference?
- How was Mother Byron’s best earthly friend?
- Describe why two days didn’t trouble Byron any more.
- What attitude did Byron have that made him a good worker?
- Does the story have a good ending?
“I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” (Psalm 91:2)